The Hurt LockerIn case you missed them, the first two events of the 2009-2010 Academy Awards season occurred earlier this week, providing the narrowest of glimpses into how the race may shake out between now and Oscar show time March 7. And this morning (Dec. 3), the National Board of Review launched the parallel awards universe conducted by critics and fan societies.

Prepare for a blizzard of award announcements in the next few weeks. Virtually every big American city, and some small ones, have critics' groups that weigh in with their awards, and every critic with access to a newspaper, magazine, TV/radio outlet, or blog will have a 10-best list to toss into the for-your-consideration pot.